Sunday, September 8, 2013

Charity offers cash to get people to donate

The only true way to engage donors


Metro’s largest charity is giving people cash to make a donation.

The Community Foundation of Metro says the move comes after trying in vain to seek donors with a variety of offers and promotions. CEO Dennis Snidely says offering cold hard cash has already doubled their donations.

“We tried everything – pledge matching, free teddy bears, a giving club where donors could get a special luncheon with the chair of the board, parties with an open bar. It got us nowhere. Then it just hit us. Why don’t we just give them cash?”

The charity started the program quite by accident when a donor event turned ugly. A frustrated fundraiser couldn’t get key donors to make extra pledges.

“Sara just lost it at our wine and cheese party a month ago, and asked out loud what it would take to get our donors to give. She pulled out a $10.00 bill and waved it around just to make a point and sure enough all of our donors started signing pledge forms,” said Snidely. “That’s when we realized that all the stuff we were doing was all wrong.”

The Foundation started giving small bills away at events, and when that worked they begun to offer $20.00 to people who made an annual gift of $100.00 or more. The result was a significant rise in donations. They also cancelled their donor recognition program and shut down half of their events, including their money-losing gala fundraiser dinner.

“The cost of all the engagement stuff we do equals about what we give to people in cash. And free money is more effective,” said Snidely.

Donor reaction has been very positive. A recent survey found that most major donors prefer cold, hard cash instead of the newsletters and events they must endure.

“I really hated the emails I received from the Foundation. And their Facebook page really sucked. I much prefer the 10 bucks they gave me,” said annual donor Dibble Brewer.

“Most the events I went to were such a chore. Honestly, I don’t think I could have taken another one,” said major donor Clarisa Turner. “The $20.00 they gave me was so much easier to deal with. I went shopping and got a treat.”

Snidely says the Foundation learned that the only real engagement that counts is cash.

“I’d wanted to think that we can reach our donors with our message, and believe me, we tried. But we found that the only thing that really resonated with our donors was cash,” he said. “We’re making more money and we’re spending less on donor engagement that most other charities struggle with.”